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The Big Six: Chic Caribbean guesthouses

Jake's, Jamaica

This bohemian resort on Jamaica's south coast is an assemblage of colourful, artistic villas and suites inspired by Spanish, Moroccan and Indian architecture. Part of Chris Blackwell's Island Outpost collection, Jake's offers vibrant design enhanced with seashells, mirrors, mosaics or coloured glass. Rooms come with either garden or sea views. The charm mirrors that of its rustic location, far removed from the big resorts on the north coast.

Jake's, Calabash Bay, Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, Jamaica (001 876 965 0635; islandoutpost.com/jakes). Doubles start at $114 (£76), room only.

Sea-U Guest House, Barbados

At this colonial-style guest house, hammocks are strung along shady verandas and coconut palms dot the luxuriant gardens. Whitewashed tongue-and-groove panelling, four-poster beds and vibrant fabrics create a breezy, elegant ambience in the rooms. Most open on to verandas overlooking the wind-whipped Atlantic outside – the east coast of the island is more popular with surfers than sun-seekers.

Sea-U Guest House, Tent Bay, Bathsheba, St Joseph, Barbados (001 246 433 9450; seaubarbados.com). Doubles start at $117 (£76), including breakfast.

The Hermitage Plantation Inn, Nevis

Reputed to be one of the oldest wooden houses in the Caribbean, The Hermitage dates back to the early 18th century. The plantation house is surrounded by pastel-painted cottages of varying ages that contain simple but charming guestrooms. Start the day in the garden with breakfast – an array of home-baked breads, West Indian saltfish or tropical fruits – then strike out and explore the island where a young Horatio Nelson married Frances Nisbet in 1787.

The Hermitage Plantation Inn, Gingerland, Nevis (001 869 469 3477; hermitagenevis.com). Doubles start at $180 (£120), including breakfast.

The Ginger Lily Hotel, St Lucia

A banana yellow exterior and tropical gardens set the scene at this small hotel near Rodney Bay and Reduit Beach. With just 11 rooms, the Ginger Lily offers an intimate, tranquil alternative to the bigger resorts nearby. Facilities include a freshwater pool, restaurant and bar.

The Ginger Lily, Rodney Bay, St Lucia (001 758 458 0300; gingerlilyhotel.com). Doubles start at $114 (£76), room only.

Maca Bana, Grenada

Taken from the Arawak for tree, "Maca" comprises seven "banas" – solar-powered villas set in tropical gardens in a beachy suburb of the capital. The hotel has a small farm that yields produce for the restaurant; activities include cookery lessons and a rainforest fruit safari.

Maca Bana, Aquarium Beach, Pointe Salines, Grenada (001 473 439 5355; macabana.com). Doubles start at $354 (£236), including a welcome hamper and transfers.

Beau Rive, Dominica

On the east coast of this wild island of forests, rivers and waterfalls, Beau Rive surveys the rugged shoreline from its hillside location. The intimate plantation-style homestead has just 10 rooms – all shiny wooden floors, antique furniture and shutters. There are citrus and spice gardens to explore, forest trails to follow and a pool to cool off in.

Beau Rive, Castle Bruce, Dominica (001 767 445 8992; beaurive.com). Doubles start at $198 (£128), including breakfast.